CHARLIE X-RAY. Captain Kirschner’s Classic ’80 CX500 Brat Café
It’s no coincidence that pilots and bikes go together like jets and turbines. After all, the perfect bike on the perfect road is about a close to flying as you can get without a pilot’s licence. And for Canada’s Nic Kirschner, who’s an airline pilot by trade, there’s nothing better than taking a break from his day job of screaming through the air at high-speed to speed all weekend doing the very same thing, albeit with less hostesses and in-flight movies.
“I’m an airline pilot living in Vancouver,” says Nic. “It’s kind of expensive to live here, let alone have space for a shop. Luckily, I grew up not too far away in the suburbs where my Mom still lives. I took over the garage there about 5 years ago when I started having the time to pursue my hobbies. Since then I’ve turned the space into a wood and metal-working shop where I mostly build furniture and, of course, work on the bike”.
“I had been looking for a CX500 for a while. I love the look of the tank off the D model and the aesthetics of the motor. After a year or so of looking, the perfect donor bike popped up on Craigslist in White Rock, BC for $500. It had been sitting, mostly outside, for 15 years so it was the perfect candidate for what i wanted to do”.
“I wanted an old bike that looked good, performed well, and was reliable. I have to give credit to David Mucci for inspiring the brass S90 tank badge and guys like Cognito Moto inspiring the front end performance upgrade and making it accessible to someone like myself”.
“I think the build is pretty typical in most ways. I started by stripping the bike down completely and did a full rebuild on the motor with new rings, bearings, cam chain, valve guides and seals. I sourced an old kitchen stove off Craigslist to use for powder coating and powder coated the entire motor satin black. I wrapped the exhaust (but only to troll the exhaust wrap haters out there, of course), removed the ‘H-box’ and installed some shorty reverse cone mufflers”.
“Next, I put on some Mikuni VM carbs and pod filters with custom intakes and jetting from Murray Feldman of ‘Murray’s Carbs’, the CX500 guru on the CX500 forum. Then came some new coils, resistor-less plug caps and iridium plugs. I fabricated a custom shroud for the radiator with the stock, camshaft-driven radiator fan replaced with a Ducati electric fan”.
“The front end was swapped to a ’00 Yamaha R1 unit with dual disc brakes. It also has a custom stem, risers and push button controls from Cognito Moto. There’s an Acewell digital speedo & tach, Renthal bars and some Biltwell Whiskey grips. To finish the front off, I added some Oberon bar end mirrors, a Kustom Tech master reservoir and a Bates headlight sharing a custom mount”.
“The rear subframe was chopped and a new loop was welded into place along with new shock mounts. I inset a new LED tail light and signals in to the rear hoop, raised the rear of the tank about one inch and painted it with a Porsche aquamarine blue. Then I sourced some tank badges from a Honda S90 which were then sandblasted and treated with a black oxide to age the brass”.
“I made a new seat pan and sourced a custom leather seat; it’s showing some nice wear now with around 5000km on the bike. I also installed some Tarozzi passenger pegs, modified fenders from Cooper Smithing Co. and I fabricated some mounts with aged brass hardware to match the tank’s badges and the forks”.
“Finally, I completely rewired the bike with the Motogadget m-unit and m-button items, added electronic ignition, a new rectifier and a higher wattage stator. There’s a new electronics tray mounted under the seat to house whatever’s required and I made a battery box to hold the new Antigravity lithium battery under the rear of motor”.
“My favorite thing about the finished bike is how it rides. The bike is a blast to both rip around town and cruise on the highway. It’s the perfect commuter to my little hobby shop in the ‘burbs. The new front end handles like a dream with plenty of stopping power and the Mikunis pull super smooth in all ranges. That and of course how it looks; it came out how I was hoping it would and I never seem to get tired of looking at it”.
[ Photos by Nic Kirschner ]